Based on the popular Lego line of construction toys, The LEGO movie is a fun, entertaining animated film, filled with numerous pop-culture references, together with an interesting, rather unexpected twist near the end of the film. The script was well-written, well-planned and well- executed.
The film’s storyline is rather formulaic and been done many times before: It’s a story about an ordinary nobody, who lives his own life by the book, go through the same old routine everyday, conforming to specific sets of instructions…believing that ‘Everything is Awesome’. But soon, he realize that there’s a big world out there, that you can become something special…if you believe you are, if you believe you can do it.
However, what makes this film different from the rest is the funny and laughable well-known western pop culture humors, parody, gags and puns found throughout the entire film. You just couldn’t resist laughing at all. That’s actually quite a remarkable feat for an animated film. The film is action-packed, in an amusing way. The CGI effects were excellent, it feels convincing that the film mostly made of Lego plastic building bricks…the vehicles, buildings, environments…even the explosions, flames, clouds, water were seemingly created entirely from Lego pieces.
Overall, the LEGO movie is a pleasant, satisfying watch for the kids and adults alike. Highly recommended.
Lots of bands have picked up the shoegaze ball and run with it since the original bands flamed out in the early ’90s. Not too many of them can say their guiding force spent time in prison for attempted murder or that their debut album was released by the resolutely metal label Relapse.
Not too many of them ever released an album as good as Nothing have here, and 2014′s Guilty of Everything is a truly impressive debut. Equally punishing and breathtaking, the album builds from singer/guitarist Domenic Palermo’s undying love of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and adds levels of toughness and power that most shoegaze bands never could quite manage. The rhythm section definitely has a past in metal, as bassist Chris Betts and drummer Kyle Kimball pummel their instruments mightily when the songs explode. They also show some nice restraint in the quiet sections and an expansive grace in the dreamlike parts. Over the top of the steel-built bottom, the guitars of Palermo and Brandon Setta grind and intertwine, setting fires and conjuring up lush waves of painful noise and wavering atmospheric haze. Their vocals are hushed and buried in the mix, with very pretty harmonies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Chapterhouse record, though bands like that didn’t have nearly the weight of Nothing. It’s a time-honored sound and Nothing inject it with some real drama and emotion. When they aim for hushed and aching, like on the almost unbearably broken “Endlessly” or the morose “Somersault,” they nail it completely and have listeners hanging on every note like it was the last one they’d ever hear. When they decide to put some motion into their emotions, they get hearts pumping in ways that call to mind the most active Dinosaur Jr. songs. “Bent Nail” and “Get Well” both fit this bill and serve to give the album some color and dimension to keep it from sinking too deep into despair’s embrace.
Guilty of Everything is a fully realized, deeply affecting album that is bound to make fans of shoegaze, dream pop, or noise pop stop in their tracks and be amazed. (And maybe even convert a few metal fans who buy the record by accident.) It takes the tropes and traditions of those styles and totally owns them, while singing about life experiences that most sheltered gazers will likely never experience, but still making them sound relatable enough so that anyone who has ever suffered will understand. Forget about shoegaze or metal or noise rock or any other genre; this is stark, dramatic music that comes from pain and has been crafted into high art that will move and inspire listeners lucky enough to hear it.
On July, her debut for Sacred Bones, Marissa Nadler strips away the metaphorical language that has been a hallmark in her songwriting, steeping her protagonist in the first person as she charts the aftermath of a devastating romantic relationship. This set is coloured a deep, gauzy American Gothic in lyric, melody, and production — the latter provided by Randall Dunn (Earth, Akron/Family, Wolves in the Throne Room). Nadler’s lithe vocals and fingerpicked acoustic guitar are at the forefront of these 11 songs, adorned by enough reverb to make them feel as if they were frozen in time immemorial, their emotional impact undiminished. Among Nadler’s accompanists here are violist/string arranger Eyvind Kang, guitarist Phil Wandscher, and keyboardist Steve Moore.
Opener “Drive” charts the ephemeral, haunted memory of a road trip with her former lover. Grief and desire coexist in recollections of songs on the radio, road signs, shared glances and thoughts, and what’s left — his property sits rotting in her back seat. Her guitar and nuanced vocals are underscored by Jason Kardong’s forlorn pedal steel. Despite its tender parlor-esque melody — which walks a line between Stephen Foster and early 20th century country music — “Firecrackers” calls her absent lover her attacker before documenting this cycle’s origin: “…July 4th of last year/We spilled all the blood/How’d you spend all your summer days?….” “Was It a Dream” features Wandscher’s reverbed electric guitar introducing the lyric, and later delivering a weighty yet spare solo. Textured by Kang’s string chart, Nadler’s protagonist reveals she “lost” a year, wondering if the relationship was “a dream or something sinister.” The beauty in songs like these (and they are beautiful, if emotionally difficult) is that they don’t merely engage in an exorcism or catharsis, but an evolutionary process as the experience gets integrated into the fabric of her narrator’s life — whether she wants it to or not. As strings, acoustic guitar, and synths swirl about her warm vocal on “Desire,” she sums up the album’s bitterest truth: “I sent my song too soon/You didn’t free me at all/And I barely needed you…I had it all wrong/I was about to believe/I could fall for you/And you had eyes for me/You got it all wrong/I was about to believe/That you had desire for me….”
Dunn’s commitment to these songs is to avoid anything that would deviate from the inherent power or detract from Nadler’s singing. Because of the material’s quality and the inspired collaboration between songwriter, performers, and producer, July unfolds as a near-perfect song cycle.
This is Al Greens most idiosyncratic album, he produced it, cowrote all the songs and plays acoustic and electric guitar throughout. Its subject matter — God’s grace, and how good it feels — isn’t pushed and while most of the lyrics are indeed religious they are nevertheless interesting.
Green kicks the record off with what I suppose is the key line for the album and sets the tone: “It’s you that I want/But him that I need.” He thus joins a long line of rock & roll want/need oppositionists — from Bob Dylan with “Memphis Blues Again” to the Rolling Stones with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” to name only two.
He leaves them behind however in his attempt to resolve the contradiction: Green tries to get Belle to accept Jesus, too. With its half-buried asides about “drunken country bars,” the song soon grows very spooky; it has the feel of a long journey to it, akin to Music from Big Pink. “Georgia Boy,” sounds even more like The Band, is a seven-minute slow walk through the piney woods, beginning with the ancient, anonymous blues lyric, “Just because I’m from the country,” and finally closing with a statement of quiet pride that, perhaps in spite of itself, sounds like a warning: “South’s gonna do it again….” The textures on this track are very dark on, almost in the manner of a Jamaican dub track like something from Burning Spear’s Garvey’s Ghost.
Overall this album has arrangements that are looser and a little rougher on this album – my personal favourite in his catalogue – than the songs he is better known for, such as “Call Me” and “Tired of Being Alone,” and amply demonstrates that Greens music had changed from the early to late 70′s, but simplicity — simplicity of intent, which perhaps here means directness of feeling — was still its foundation.
Five years after releasing their first recordings, the Cheatahs have taken their own sweet time making their first full-length album, but the band’s self-titled debut album was most certainly worth the wait: if some indie rock follower is still waiting for the Great Lost Shoegaze Album to be released in the 21st century, Cheatahs deserves that honorific as well as anything you could name.
On these sessions, guitarists Nathan Hewitt and James Wignall evoke vast clouds of guitar sound, with banks of textured noise floating through like fog rolling in from the distance while the leads drift overhead, alternately ringing like bells and howling like beasts. The production (by the band) and engineering (by bassist Dean Reid) make the most of the banks of guitars, giving them a sound that’s rich and saturated in echo, while the insistent throb of Reid’s bass and the crash of Marc Raue’s drums bob up and down through this music like waves on the ocean, with keyboards and loops adding subtle washes of color. This is music that sounds like the missing link between the noisy dreamscapes of My Bloody Valentine and the resinous assault of classic Dinosaur Jr., and at its best the group’s songwriting is on a par with its influences; if this isn’t quite full of immediate classics like “Only Shallow” and “Freak Scene,” “Kenworth,” “Northern Exposure,” and “Fall” are much more than just frameworks for guitar abuse and will ring in your head hours after the album is over.
Vast, clamorous, and curiously beautiful, Cheatahs recalls a time and place that isn’t necessarily 2014, but does so with such skill and élan you’d be a fool not to meander through time and space with these sounds.
One gets the feeling that Trier – when approaching this – was out to make the definitive sex drama as during the course of this movie he touches on almost every form of sexual desires and deviations, and – importantly – does so in an honest and explicit way.
A lot of these themes are investigated in the light of religion and psychology with refreshing and provocative ideas thrown into the mix. This is a huge film. Not only because it is long but also because it tackles a huge subject and takes its time to investigate each one of them.
Let’s first tackle the controversial issue of “is it porn?”; well, It certainly has scenes that could have been lifted from a porn film but the ‘focus’ is never on sexual scenes to get the audience aroused, but rather on the story, so I don’t agree with those who call this film porn.
The sex scenes serve the story perfectly unlike in porn films where the story serves the sex scenes.
It goes without saying that the main theme of the film is sex but it is far from being the only theme. There is a lot of religious and psychological themes throughout the film, and the film takes its time to explain art, fly fishing and what not.
I know I have not said anything about the story. I think it is best to go in not knowing. Let’s just say that this is an odyssey of a Nympomaniac and she goes to a lot of places on her journey from a 7 year old to a grown up woman (there are 3 actresses what play her throughout these stages of her life.)
I think this is a magnificent film which takes its subject matter very seriously. It is among Trier’s best films and it might even be the magnum opus he intended it to be.
It is beautiful to look at and definitely a film that needs to be seen.
Annie Clark began recording St. Vincent almost immediately after she finished touring in support of Love This Giant, her inspired collaboration with David Byrne. It’s not hard to hear the influence that album had on these songs; Love This Giant’s literal and figurative brassiness gave Clark’s witty yet thoughtful approach more sass without sacrificing any of her intelligence. Similarly, St. Vincent is some of her most pop-oriented work, yet it doesn’t dilute the essence of her music. If anything, her razor-sharp wit is even more potent when polished in a candy coating with just a hint of venom.
This is especially true of the album’s singles: on “Digital Witness,” one of the songs with the closest kinship to her “Love This Giant” work, she juxtaposes pointed commentary (“If you can’t see me/What’s the point of doing anything?”) with Valley Girl “yeah”s in a trenchant expression of the 21st century’s constant oversharing and need for validation. This somewhat frantic undercurrent bubbles to the surface on “Birth in Reverse,” one of Clark’s most immediately winning singles since “Actor Out of Work,” and one that makes retreat seem nearly as exciting as revolution. Here and throughout the album, Clark and longtime producer John Congleton use their signature, proudly artificial sound to highlight her direct storytelling, whether it’s the way “I Prefer Your Love”‘s trip-hoppy sheen lets the declaration “I prefer your love to Jesus” ring out more boldly or the way Clark sings “I’m afraid of you because I can’t be left behind” gives the lie to her brash guitar playing on “Regret.” As on Strange Mercy, Clark explores strength and vulnerability in ever more masterful, and approachable, ways. Not every song may be as literally autobiographical as “Rattlesnake,” which was inspired by a secluded walk in the desert in the altogether. Yet there’s more than a kernel of emotional truth to “Prince Johnny,” where Clark’s character ends up even more exposed thanks to some songwriting sleight-of-hand. The hallucinatory, funky “Huey Newton” and the decaying power ballad “Severed Crossed Fingers” show off not just Clark’s musical range, but just how eloquently she blends passion and precision. And, as her most satisfying, artful, and accessible album yet, St. Vincent earns its title.
Over the course of their first three albums, Vancouver power duo the Pack A.D. put increasingly less emphasis on their blues influences and more on their rock & roll swagger, and now that they’re up to album number five, they’ve evolved into a stripped-down but muscular rock & roll machine, but they’ve also added just a dash of pop hookiness to their formula.
Make no mistake, 2014′s Do Not Engage is full-on rock & roll and clearly proud of it — Becky Black lays out big clouds of fuzzy six-string goodness and can conjure guitar and bass sounds at once with the style of Scott Lucas himself, while drummer Maya Miller attacks her kit with the gleeful ferocity and relentless accuracy of a true master. But cue up “Big Shot” and you’ll hear a tune you can actually dance to, while “The Water” evokes the clean, echoing surfaces of early Suicide (who were always a lot catchier than anyone wanted to admit), and the stutter-step of “The Flight” sounds plenty sophisticated for a band most often celebrated for its minimalism. As a vocalist, Black is still in her element when she’s running her larynx like she pummels her guitar, but on “Needles” and “Loser,” she demonstrates how much nuance she can put into more dynamic numbers, and “Stalking Is Normal” shows the Pack A.D. haven’t lost their Blues Power when they feel it suits their purposes (not to mention their knack for writing smart, artful, and pointed lyrics). Jim Diamond’s production allows Black and Miller to sound as mighty as they want to be without smothering the artful touches the Pack A.D. have added to their arsenal; it’s not common for a band to rock this hard and sound this smart at the same time, and the fact they’ve managed this accomplishment with a mere two people confirms Do Not Engage is both a solid dose of rock action and a model of modern efficiency.
In the months following the release of his 1968 self-titled debut album (largely a false start), Young hooked up with a ragtag trio of musicians from a band called the Rockets, renamed them Crazy Horse, and found his raison d’être.
Where the performances on Neil Young were eminently professional, the sophisticated and exacting parts executed with polished precision, Crazy Horse were loose and sloppy, privileging groove and feeling above all. Many of Young’s seasoned contemporaries considered them an embarrassment, but for him they represented a new way of thinking about music, one that favored intuition and stayed true to the moment. A year later he would hook up with the hugely successful Crosby, Stills and Nash; Young would eventually call CSNY his Beatles, while Crazy Horse was his Stones. By this logic, they were making music on the level of Sticky Fingers from the jump.
Discussion of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere usually gravitates toward the two extended guitar workouts, “Down By the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand”. Both are masterpieces of rock minimalism, demonstrating the power of repetition as the Crazy Horse rhythm section of Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot cycle through the chords and Young solos endlessly in his grimy, deeply-felt tone, playing off the subtle, prodding rhythm work of guitarist Danny Whitten. But the more compressed and accessible moments on the record are just as powerful. The title track is a brash, rollicking country-rocker in the vein of the Band, while “Round & Round (It Won’t Be Long)” is a gorgeous acoustic ballad that finds Young, Whitten, and violinist Robin Lane engaged in three-part harmony on the achingly slow chorus. Best of all on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Young sounds comfortable and confident, singing with the versatile (and hugely influential) voice that has changed remarkably little in the 40 years since.
Blank Realm’s 2012 album Go Easy wasn’t widely released until the following year, so when Grassed Inn arrived at the beginning of 2014, it felt like the band’s creativity was running at a breakneck pace. While that wasn’t exactly true, Grassed Inn is still a marked leap forward. Go Easy suggested that Blank Realm had more potential and ambition than many of the other bands reviving fuzzy college rock from the late ’80s and early ’90s, and the best moments here fulfill that promise.
Lead track “Falling Down the Stairs” shows just how much they’ve progressed: brisk keyboards and crystalline guitars reflect the band’s dedication to pop (and their fondness for the Flying Nun sound), while the detours they take on the verse-chorus-verse path prove they haven’t cleaned up their act too much. This newfound focus extends to Grassed Inn’s rangier tracks as well. “Bulldozer Love”‘s nearly nine-minute length feels purposeful instead of rambling, and the determined grooves here and the joyously anthemic opener “Back to Flood” feel like forces of nature. As Blank Realm’s sound gets cleaner, their influences blur together in unexpected ways: the expansive repetition of “Even the Score” evokes the ecstatic chug of the Velvet Underground and Spiritualized as well as the Krautrock Motorik that has always inspired them. Grassed Inn also finds the band reveling in a wider range of sounds and textures; “Violet Delivery”‘s synths and drum machines add a different dimension to the band’s psychedelic haze even as they blend in perfectly. Perhaps more importantly, Blank Realm expand their palette of moods on Grassed Inn, and some of the album’s saddest moments are also the best. There’s a desperation in the screeching synth that pierces “Baby Closes the Door”‘s murky meditation on loss to its core, while “Reach You on the Phone” tangles tough and wistful sentiments into something thrillingly bittersweet.
These trips to the dark side add even more depth to an album that’s a significant step forward for Blank Realm, and some of their most enjoyable music yet.
Judgement & Sentencing by Heather Phares
"There's Only Two Types Of Music – Good & Bad!" (Duke Ellington 1899-1974)